Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat May 14 04:15:36 UTC 2011

At 10:31 PM -0400 5/13/11, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>I must be getting older every day.  Once there was "VD," but for some reason
>that became unusable, maybe because nobodu knew what "venereal" meant, much
>less how to spell it.

You don't have to spell it if you're calling it VD, a la "E.D." et
al.  But it still could be taboo avoidance, applying even to the V.
Or maybe euphemistic initialisms just age out of the system, as with
"J.D."  It does look from the OED entry as though "venereal" pretty
much (although not entirely) stopped relating to love/sex/desire (or
genitalia) in general around the same time references to "venereal
disease/pox/distemper" became established.  Before that, we had these
more general uses...

1552    R. Huloet Abcedarium Anglico Latinum,   Veneriall pastime, aphrodisia.

1610    J. Healey trans. St. Augustine Citie of God
Such is hunger and thirst, and the venereall affect, vsually called lust.

1732    Alexander Pope
Those Appetites are now become Venal which should be Venereal.

My favorite:

1658    J. Rowland tr. T. Muffet Theater of Insects in Topsell's
Hist. Four-footed Beasts
Divers Authors do speak of four other sorts of Moths, viz. the
Venereal, bred in the genitals of men; the Bee Moth, the Cloth Moth,
and the Library or Book Moth.

It's all been downhill since those spontaneously generating venereal
moths packed up shop...

>Then there was "STD," which still sounds affected to
>Now, on Dr. Drew's show this evening, a caller wondered when it was
>etiquette to tell a prospective squeeze that you secretly have an "STI."

Right; I just learned (from our grad students) that "STD" is old hat,
it's definitely "STI" now.  No idea if it's for the reason below,
although that does sound plausible.


>Nobody bothered to define it.  It developed that "STI" means "sexually
>transmitted infection," alias (not "aka") "VD" (not "STD").
>Is it that HIV is an STI but not an STD because you're not obviously sick?
>Then how about "*SRC," "sexually related condition"?  That would include all
>kinds of things from crabs to neuroses. And it wouldn't mean the same thing
>as "VD."
>"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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